Well, unsurprisingly, it happened again. My wife and I found ourselves wishing we were in Switzerland hiking in one of our favourite Alpine valleys. As always, that meant it was time to make a Swiss inspired dinner, and on the menu tonight is an entree gratin. Traditional gratins are made from thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, and a roux and are commonly used as side dishes. But, we figured, “Why not invite some veggies and meat to the party?” And invite them, we did. That is how the Swiss chard, mushrooms, and mutton got into the dish.
Before we get to the good stuff, I have to reiterate my word of caution with the experimental cooking method that I rely on. As I was making the dish, I used too much milk in my roux, and that caused the dish to be “saucier” than I wanted. You’ll see in the method section what I did to try to overcome this…but long story short, be careful to not make the same mistake I did!
Time: 2 Hours (about 1:30 of which is baking time)
- Mutton or Lamb Meat (we are using Mutton that my wife gave me from Kinderhook Farm for my birthday)
- Swiss Chard
- Optional: Onions and Mushrooms
- Swiss Cheese (Important Note: I mean cheese from Switzerland, not what we in the USA call “Swiss Cheese.” Emmentaler, Gruyere, Mutschli, Raclette, and Appenzeller are all good here depending on which taste you’re going for)
- Milk (enough so that your sauce can coat your meat and veggies…but not so much that they are swimming in a milk pool)
- Flour (equal parts butter and flour)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and give a casserole dish a quick spray of oil.
- Clean and cut up all of your vegetables:
- Peel and thinly slice your potatoes (use a slicer attachment of your food processor or carefully use a mandolin if you have one for even slices and to make everything quicker)
- Chop your Swiss Chard
- Dice your garlic
- If using, dice your onions, and slice your mushrooms
- Shred your cheese using a box grater or shredding plate of your food processor. If you are using a softer cheese (we used Mutschli), I suggest freezing it first and then using a microplane grater or box grater so it doesn’t mush or fall apart.
- Thinly slice your mutton or lamb, and cut the slices into small pieces.
- Heat some oil in a pan, and add your garlic and onions to caramelize. Then, add your meat to brown it slightly, and remove it from the heat.
- In a large pan (big enough to hold all of your meat, potatoes, and veggies eventually), melt your butter, and whisk in your flour to combine. Then, add your milk, and whisk together for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.
- When the sauce thickens, carefully add in your potatoes, meat, and veggies, and fold to combine.
- Add most of your cheese, and fold some more until everything is nicely coated and mixed together. IF you used too much milk (like I did), let everything simmer together for a bit on the stove until it cooks down before transferring to your oven safe dish. This will also reduce your requisite baking time, so make sure to account for that.
- Pour the contents of your bowl into your baking dish/casserole dish, and tightly cover with foil.
- Place your baking dish/casserole dish on a sheet pan (just in case of boil-overs), and stash it in the oven for about 60 minutes.
- Remove the foil, and add the rest of your cheese to the top, and bake uncovered for another 15-30 minutes
- When the top starts to brown a bit,and the potatoes are tender, remove from the oven, and let sit for about 5 minutes before digging in.
- Plate, devour, and enjoy!